Make Your Skin Shine Before the Big Party

How to maximize your looks with good food.

Medically Reviewed by Michael W. Smith, MD
4 min read

The office gala or New Year's Eve party is almost upon you -- but you are feeling stressed, tired, and unglamorous. Take heart! You may not be able to reverse a year of sloth and cheeseburgers in a few hours, but all is not lost. A nutritional facelift may be just what the doctor ordered.

Connecticut dermatologist Nicholas Perricone, MD, attributes lack of energy, dull skin, and wrinkles to low-grade inflammation caused by sun exposure, pollution, stress, sugar, and dehydration.

Our diet too often worsens the problem. Red meat is loaded with saturated fats, which can cause inflammation, Perricone tells WebMD. Alternative sources of protein such as rice and beans are packed with calories.

To counter damage to our skin, Perricone proposes a "3-day nutritional facelift" in his book, The Perricone Prescription: A Physician's 28-Day Program for Total Body and Face Rejuvenation. What on earth is a nutritional facelift? In simplest terms, you eat:

  • Omega-3 fatty acids in the form of fish such as salmon, tuna, and caviar. Omega-3s have anti-inflammatory effects.
  • Omega-6 fatty acids, found in corn oil, soybean oil, and other vegetable oils. Omega-6s include linoleic acid, which helps maintain the health of the skin and hair.
  • Fruits and vegetables loaded with antioxidants, such a broccoli and Brussels sprouts, oranges, and blueberries. In fact, most fruits and vegetables have antioxidants. Antioxidants help rid your body of molecules called free radicals, which can break down skin tissue, making it look older than it is.
  • Carbohydrates low in simple sugars, such as whole grains, oatmeal, brown rice, and vegetables. Refined carbohydrates high in simple sugars -- sugar, white flour, and rice -- may contribute to inflammation.

By avoiding foods that may contribute to inflammation, and eating foods that help fight inflammation, Perricone says you will be the hit of the party. "You can see the results across the room!" he says.

How does it work? Here's a simplified version of his three-day regime:

  • Eight to 10 glasses of water each day
  • Three meals, evenly spaced through the day (eat the protein first)
  • Two snacks, one early in the afternoon, and one between dinner and bedtime
  • Both meals and snacks must contain a protein source, carbohydrate, and fat in the form of omega-3 and omega-6 essential fatty acids.

He suggests you try this nutritional facelift during a three-day period free of social obligations, where you can focus on what you are eating. Shop each day to get the freshest foods possible. The only sacrifice might be coffee, which must be eliminated because it raises levels of cortisol and insulin, which encourage storage of body fat. Drink green tea instead -- it's delicious!

To help you get started, check out this sample menu.

Wake Up
8 to 12 ounces of spring water

Egg white omelet (3 whites, one yolk) and/or a 4- to 6-ounce piece of grilled or broiled salmon (smoked is too salty)
1/3 cup oatmeal (non-instant)
3-inch slice of cantaloupe and ¼ cup of berries, preferably blueberries
8 to 12 ounces of spring water (more if you want it)

4 to 6 ounces of grilled salmon or low-sodium canned tuna in water or sardines in olive oil
2 cups romaine dressed with 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil and fresh lemon juice
3-inch slice of cantaloupe and ¼ cup fresh berries
8 to 12 ounces of spring water

Mid-Afternoon Snack
2 ounces low-salt, sliced chicken breast
4 raw, unsalted hazel nuts
1/2 green apple
8 to 12 ounces of spring water

4 to 6 ounces of grilled salmon
2 cups romaine (with tablespoon of olive oil and fresh lemon juice)
1 cup steamed asparagus, broccoli, or spinach dressed with a splash of olive oil
3-inch slice of cantaloupe and ¼ cup fresh berries
8 to 12 ounces of spring water

Before-bedtime snack
2 ounces of low-fat, low-salt turkey or chicken breast
1/2 pear or green apple
3 or 4 almonds or olives
8 to 12 ounces of spring water

Of course, if all this seems like too much work, you can always fall back on traditional quick fixes, such as chemical peels or even Botox injections. But a chemical peel may leave your face looking red or swollen for about a week. And Botox works by partially paralyzing a facial muscle -- perhaps an extreme measure if all you're looking for is a healthy glow.

In contrast, most people eating a healthy diet, Perricone says, need only good cleansing, sun block, and a moisturizer.